Fishing for Vitamins A, D and Omega-3s? Try Cod Liver Oil
You might have heard your parents or grandparents telling horror stories about being fed fish oil as kids. However, they may have rediscovered this supplement in their later years — and you might want to give it a look, too. Fish oil — particularly cod liver oil — is rich in nutrients that could have many potential health benefits.
What Is Cod Liver Oil?
“Cod liver oil is extracted from the liver of codfish,” says Erica Ingraham, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Washington, D.C. “It’s associated with several health benefits. It’s a source of vitamins A and D, and omega-3s, which [has several health benefits].”
Cod liver oil is available in liquid and capsule form. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of cod liver oil has 123 calories and 14 grams of fat; significantly more than half of the fat comes from unsaturated fat sources, aka “healthy” fats.
What Are Some Benefits of Cod Liver Supplements?
Aside from omega-3 fatty acids, a typical benefit of fish oil, cod liver oil also helps meet daily requirements for vitamins A and D. These nutrients are believed to benefit:
What Are the Side Effects of Cod Liver Oil?
Side effects of adding cod liver oil to your diet are minimal. But you should be aware of two things.
1. It’s possible to take too much vitamin A
“Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble vitamins, meaning they are stored in the body,” says Ingraham. “It is possible to overdose, so treat the oil as a supplement and take as directed by your physician.”
2. The environment might be an issue
“A potential risk may come from consuming very high doses over a long period due to environmental toxins,” says Ingraham. To reduce this risk, don’t take larger doses of cod liver oil than directed.
Cod Liver Oil vs. Fish Oil
Cod liver oil is fish oil, but not all fish oil is cod liver oil.
“Fish oil is taken from the tissue and whole body of several kinds of fish, including cod, tuna, and herring,” says Ingraham. “Cod liver oil is mainly taken from Atlantic cod, and extracted from the liver.”